Occasionally, rarely, I do something…actually no, that is wrong…I play a role in a series of events which ping something in my brain and cause ripples in my thoughts that won’t subside. Perhaps by organizing those thoughts, or writing them down, I will damp the ripples.
First of all I have to state that I have been in a very bad mood now for quite a while. I suspect that my greyish outlook is largely due to the consistently unyielding nature of several of my projects to effort and thought. Perhaps for the first time, I am faced with a prolonged feeling of powerlessness to solve my problems coupled with a maybe even more maddening inability to even see and clearly understand the problems. Suffice it to say that small victories, like the successful repair of my fridge defrost thermostat, have felt like disproportionally important successes.
Furthermore, I read, a week ago, a book by James Lovelock, which argues convincingly that Gaia will soon wipe the majority of humans off the face of the earth. He believes we should be preparing areas of the planet as lifeboats to survive. The problem is that I have had this feeling for years.
I believe the book “Mosquito Coast” with its central story of the destruction of a family’s habitat when a machine designed to make ice and cool the house explodes spewing ammonia and flame all around, is my minds basic allegory for modern civilization. Of course we risk Armageddon for humanity in pursuit of the perfect martini sipped on the top floor of a hotel, the air chilled to an icy 20 degrees, sipped while viewing a writhing metropolis through four-meter-high, laminated-for-safety, plate-glass windows.
So that’s the backstory on my crappy mood. Friday night I was actually in a pretty good frame of mind, I thought. I had a very tasty bit of (farmed) Salmon for dinner accompanied by two or three glasses of 2000 Bordeaux, also very tasty. I had a small errand to do, pick up my girlfriend’s daughter and drop her home. It was about 930pm and it had been lightly raining. The roads were fairly empty.
As I glided along the dark, wet road, following the gently curving Mediterranean, a black sedan with a handful of feral young men began indicating its displeasure at my stately pace with a flurry of winking headlights and some horn klaxons. My speed, being dictated by the car in front of me, there was not much I could do and so I did nothing. The other lane of the road was nominally available for him to pass me in, but given the number of double-parked cars, using it was a mugs game. Nevertheless the driver of the FMW (Feral Machine Werken) decided to pass me in the parking lane, almost causing me to wreck his rear end. Did I mention that his car had no license plates?
At this point I cannot rely on memory, logic or even a good guess to explain why I decided that I would not let his behavior wash over me. I chased him and eventually pulled up next to him, just before a large junction. I swerved my car hoping to push him into the line of parked cars. I wanted him to crash and I suspect that if the traffic signal had not turned red, I may well have succeeded. As it was we both came to a halt and they got out of the car. Presumably they expected me to do likewise, but I, unarmed and not skilled in the art of street fighting, demurred. Instead I pulled my car forward and then reversed into them aiming at their bodies, hoping to run at least one of them over. They flowed away, like the jelly-skirt of a jellyfish, and then, like the same skirt, flowed back towards the now stopped car. They started to bang on it. I pulled forward. This time I had decided to wreck their car and possibly one of them with it. I aligned the back of my car with the side of theirs. And just at the point when I had engaged reverse and was ready to hit the gas, a knock at my window made me look around. It was a policeman.
At this point I thought “I am cooked.” He said in Arabic what I thought was “Stop on the right.” So I did. I waited. Expecting to be taken to the Police Station. After a minute, when nothing had happened, I looked round and saw no police. I asked J, who was with me in the car, “Where is the Policeman?” She told me that he has actually said “Continue on your way.” As in Leave. I could not quite bring myself to accept that so I asked her to repeat it. And then I moved ever so slowly away.
My memory of the episode is dark and inundated with wetness. I see it the way I would a city through sunglasses, at night and under a driving downpour. And even more I see it through a mental veil, not the veil that drugs or alcohol would throw over things, more like a dreamlike confusion. My desires, my desire to attack those shit-bags, my desire to establish whose rules and behavior are correct, are clear in my mind, as I write this, like the taste of bitter morning coffee. Deep down from underneath my intestines, from my diaphragm, I still sense the wide open gust of hate-infused wind like a hurricane shout of anger driven with fierce strength and animal fury through my lungs and throat and then, not out of my mouth, but straight through my brain, removing it from contact with my senses, turned into simply a manager of weapons, a machine to destroy.
When I got home I showed J a clip from Gran Torino. The key line is:
Clint Eastwood (Walt): Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have fucked with? That’s me.
That, I explained to her, is the message I hope those pieces of shit took away from the encounter.
And as I wrote that, I can tell you my hatred for the unknown human occupants of the FMW is sharp and fizzy. I have, in my spinal column, a jazz of energy that I know is the unsatisfied remnant of the encounter. Unsatisfied because I did not actually damage them.
And no matter that my brain gives thanks to god, luck and that policeman for stopping things before I did kill one of them, perhaps bringing down the wrath of a whole clan on my head, perhaps changing the course of my life forever, perhaps ruining everything I hold important. No matter all of that, because the territorial animal within me is not satisfied. That part of me somehow knows that the situation around me requires violence.
And being a curious fucker, I want to know why my body is pushing me to violence? Why is my previously left wing, humanistic, goodie-two-shoes-self indifferent to death and suffering. I think I know. I think it is because there are too many goddamned people in this place. And I know that I should be arranging my ticket out of here. That the people and Gaia are going to conspire to make this specific place a graveyard for most of us. But it is hard to step so far away from the well-trodden path. Hard to step so far away when the catastrophic outcome I fear remains only a theory for now.
But my impulse to make space around me, to reduce the crowding is not theoretical. And it should be respected or, I suspect, bad things will happen.